01 Aug 2014

What it’s like to raise investment

By Vicky

Almost exactly a year since we first walked through the doors into the Bethnal Green Ventures accelerator programme we’ve now closed our first major investment round. It’s an amazing feeling to finally have everything signed and sealed, and it’s a great time for the team as we can now really push on with the next phase of our growth and development.

Overall we had a pretty smooth ride through, but it was a certainly a more time-consuming process than we anticipated!

When we first started preparing for the investment, I remember the consensus advice from the BGV mentors was that “investment will take longer than you think”, and “you’ll need to dedicate a full person to manage the investment process”. They were right, on both counts – but at the time it was difficult to understand how it could take so long…

Everything seemed simpler in our case; we had a product with traction (10k users when we joined BGV, 25k at the demo day 12 weeks later), picked up two enthusiastic angels right after demo day, and were in discussions with a trade investor that seemed a perfect fit. We’ll be closed in a couple of months, right? Not quite!

Without going into specifics, the weeks kept passing by whilst we worked out the details – a seemingly simple question could take a couple of weeks to resolve. This wasn’t because the deal was particularly complicated, but because of timings – for example the Christmas season meant key people were away, and we lost some momentum. Looking back, it’s amazing how easy it was for the process to stretch out.

All this also meant that our already small team was being stretched even further – not only were we trying to continue to build and support our growing new product Overleaf (yes – we even decided to launch a new product in January this year, on the assumption that the investment was ‘only a few weeks away from being wrapped up’), but we were now trying to manage an investment process and understand all the ins-and-outs of the legal details.

This is where a good lawyer can make a huge difference – we were lucky enough to have met Laurence from Keystone Law during our time at BGV, and he made the whole process as straightforward as possible, and we really appreciated the efforts he put in to take us through everything. If you’re a start-up in London considering investment, and are looking for a lawyer, I’d recommend giving Laurence a call.

The support of others is also really important – again we were lucky to have BGV behind us, who followed up on their original investment in July 2013 to be part of this round, and the two angel investors whom we met after demo day continued to provide us with useful (and timely) advice, even as our projected completion deadline kept slipping. A key thing here is to provide regular updates – there’s nothing worse than sitting on news (especially if it’s a delay), and it’s never too early to start getting into the habit of putting together an investor summary of how your business is doing.

Raising investment is stressful and time-consuming, but ultimately hugely worthwhile if you can find the right investors for your business. Now that everything is completed, the hard work really begins. We’ve already moved into new offices (those of our lead investor), and are pushing on with forging new partnerships and developing opportunities that the investment has opened up.

You can read more about our investment on our blog, and if you have any questions please get in touch – always happy to meet up for a coffee.


John Hammersley, CEO Writelatex Limited, London UK